|"Red sky in morning,
sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors
- Old Sailor's Adage
In the Northern Hemisphere a ship can be steered by locating North with the North Star. To do this you must first find the Ursa Major constellation (the Big Dipper) and follow "The Pointers". The pointers are the stars Merak and Dubhe they are the stars on the side of the dipper without the handle. If you drew a straight line through these two stars it would point directly at Polaris, the North Star.
Polaris isn't visible in the Southern hemisphere, the Southern Cross is the most distinctive constellation there. An imaginary line drawn through the long axis of the Southern Cross, or True Cross, points straight toward the South Pole. There is also another cross shaped constellation nearby known as the False Cross. In the False Cross the stars are more widely spaced and are less bright. Also the False Cross has a star in the center of it making it have 5 stars instead of 4. When lines are projected from the True Cross between the two brightest stars east of the True Cross the intersection point is in an area without any stars known as the Dark Pocket.
You can also find south with the moon by drawing a line along the points of the crescent of the moon. Start at one point and draw through the other point until you reach the horizon, this is the direction South of your position.
The Sun interferes with the navigation of a ship because, of course, daytime hides the stars, as well as by creating clouds. When clouds form many of the stars necessary for celestial navigation become hard to see or invisible. The lack of any star visibility during an extended period of time has gotten several ships lost. Since the Sun is the cause of these problems it qualifies as one of a ship captains worst enemies.
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.